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State Supreme Court Stops Release Of 'Lifers'

The North Carolina Supreme Court has stopped the release of a handful of inmates sentenced to life in prison so it can consider the case further.

The high court's stay was issued Friday after a lower court ruling that some inmates sentenced to life more than 30 years ago should be released because of a legal quirk.

The 2-1 Court of Appeals ruling applied to two men sentenced in the late 1970s for second-degree murder and second-degree burglary. At least 13 other inmates have similar cases, including some convicted of rape.

Those inmates are Clyde Lovette, convicted from Guilford County for 2nd degree murder and Charles Lynch, also convicted from Guilford County for 2nd degree burglary.

At the time, the law defined a life term as 80 years, but rules allowed inmates to reduce their sentences through good behavior, taking classes or working. The inmates contend they have earned their release.


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The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that a handful of inmates sentenced to life prison terms more than 30 years ago should be released because of a quirk in the law.

In a 2-1 decision, the ruling Tuesday applies to two men sentenced in the late 1970s to life terms for second-degree murder and second-degree burglary. But it could set the stage for the release of at least 13 other inmates with similar cases.

Those inmates are Clyde Lovette, convicted from Guilford County for 2nd degree murder and Charles Lynch, also convicted from Guilford County for 2nd degree burglary.

At the time, state law defined a life term as 80 years, but rules allowed for inmates to earn sentence reductions through classes or working while behind bars.

State lawyers argued the men should remain incarcerated until they die. The case is now likely to head to the North Carolina Supreme Court.


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